Thursday, March 19, 2009

Super Capers Spoofs the Superheroes

By David Luhrssen
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Superheroes and the universe they inhabit, where every gesture is bigger than a billboard and good argues with evil in cartoon balloons, are funny. And in a society that realizes this, superheroes can be dysfunctional oddballs as easily as saviors. The insight isnít novel, but Super Capers is a modesty-amusing riff on the theme. It opens in theaters this weekend.

Although writer-director Ray Griggs obviously loves the genre that began with Superman and similarly garbed and empowered crime fighters, he finds humor in the genreís conventions and in fans that would rather dwell in Gotham City than live in their own hometown. Super Capersí bungling protagonist Ed Gruberman (Justin Whalin) is one such wannabe, a singing messenger boy in tights and cape who, for trying to foil a holdup while in costume, is sentenced by a judge to a halfway house for aspiring superheroes.

Pitted against criminals who laugh evilly (and are controlled by an unsuspected dark master), the costumed denizens of this facility are hard pressed to protect and serve. Suffering from migraines, Herman Brainer struggles to use his telekinetic gift. Felicia Freeze calls forth showers of ice (and little else) while the vainglorious Will Power has only a tenth of Supermanís strength. The inventor Q canít quite get his light saber to work and is trailed by a cantankerous robot that sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mixing animation and graphics into live action, Super Capers is packed with referential fan universe gags involving everything from X-Men and Star Wars to The Matrix and Men in Black. Itís a well made spoof on a modest budget, seldom hilarious but funnier than most of what passes nowadays for A-List Hollywood comedy.

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